Here are semi-rational counters to the gut “Oh my God!” reactions.
1. “Oh my God! We start the season with three ACC games!” I wouldn’t choose to start the season and Jags' career with three conferences games but this is not as bad as it appears. Wake will be tough but probably not as good as they were this year. I expect NC State to get off to a rough start (for a variety of reasons). We have a veteran team and should be favored in both games. Remember that our defense won’t be making wholesale changes, so the usual transition to a new staff is somewhat lessened. I also think Jags and Logan are smart enough to emphasize Ryan’s strengths instead of forcing all sorts of changes on him. So assuming we start 2-0, the team should head into Atlanta with plenty of momentum. Tech is tough at home, but they graduated a lot of talent and will have a new offensive coordinator. I think they will be favored, but BC can certainly steal the game.
2. “Oh my God! Why are we playing four straight non-conference games during the middle of the schedule?” Not how I would line it up, but like the first fret, this has a logical explanation. Parents weekend is always a cupcake, so we should have expected UMass there. Notre Dame also dictates when we play them. Army makes a nice break after the ACC heavy start. So I guess Gene could have slipped another ACC game during the Bowling Green slot, but would that be all that much better? Plus, Bowling Green probably wanted to get their heavyweights out of the way. I really think the four straight non conference games is unavoidable. I also think we can win all four. Notre Dame will be in rebuilding mode and we’ll have huge talent advantages against everyone else.
3. “Oh my God! We close with Virginia Tech on a Thursday, Florida State, At Maryland, At Clemson, and Miami!” That is life in the ACC. There’s no UConn, Temple, and old Rutgers-like conference foes to pad the schedule. All of these teams were in bowls last season. I think they will all be good next year, but not unbeatable. At Blacksburg on a Thursday night will be extremely tough. I like our chances against FSU at home (and think the ‘Noles will continue to struggle in 2007). I think we will be favored at Maryland. Clemson will be tough, but I’d rather play them in November when the heat is no longer a factor. I also like our chances against Miami and I am still scratching my head at the Randy Shannon hire.
This is a tough, tough schedule. But if you calm down and take a step back, there is no reason to think our talented team cannot excel next year. The D should be very good. The offense will be learning on the fly, but I do have faith in them. If TOB played this schedule, we would have heard plenty of whining. I hope Jags looks at it and says “We can beat every team on our schedule!”